Book Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater
Publication Date: October 18th 2011 by Scholastic Press
Rating: |

Summary: It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

Review Overview:

  • Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is breath-taking. It continues to impress me.
  • The concept of the capaill uisce was fascinating
  • The plot was a little slow for my tastes; there was definitely a lot of character-building.

Like any other book that I know I’m going to read, I pretty much dove into THE SCORPIO RACES blind. I did not read any reviews. I merely skimmed the back of the ARC – which ended up telling me nothing about the book, a little to my dismay. And I refused to read any summaries that would tell me what the book is about. I knew the book was going to be about horses. The cover pretty much gives it away. But not just any horses: capaill uisce – magical killer water horses. Huh.

The concept behind this book is actually pretty cool. At first, I was really confused because I’d never heard of this mythical / legendary creature before. But after a few chapters, it was so easy to get hooked onto the idea of capaill uisce. They are such beautiful creatures and you can count on Stiefvater to describe them to you with precision. It actually made a lot of sense to read the Author’s Note at the end of the book because it gave me insight as to how Stiefvater came around to writing about magical killer water horses and background on the different variations of the myth. I wouldn’t recommend reading the Author’s Note before reading the book. I think it’s best to discover the magic of capaill uisce yourself first.

The prose is fantastic. Stiefvater writes so beautifully and THE SCORPIO RACES is no exception. Sometimes I forget just how much I love the way Stiefvater crafts a sentence, but I’m immediately reminded of that fact from the very first page of starting one of her books.

There is a bit of romance in THE SCORPIO RACES and I am stunned by the way Stiefvater just pulls it off effortlessly. There is a slow build up so it is definitely realistic. The novel isn’t about an epic love story like the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, but there are just some scenes that made me positively giddy. The romance is sweet and touching. Stiefvater is able to portray realistic young love without being overly sappy.

THE SCORPIO RACES is just about on the threshold on being a 4-star review. I really wanted to give this book a 4-star rating just for the sake of beautiful writing, but I felt like the plot was a bit lacking. It’s true that I did read it in more or less a day, but I also felt like I could easily have stopped reading and walked away. There is not as much mystery to this novel. Essentially, the plot can be summed up in a sentence: girl and boy (in this case Puck and Sean) want to compete in the Scorpio Races, a race involving magical killer water horses. The book itself is more character driven than plot driven. The novel unfolds as the races get closer, and the characters grow and go through self-discovery.

THE SCOPRIO RACES is good, but the pacing is just a little bit slow for me. I needed a little bit something more fast-paced. This book is perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater. If you’re in love with her writing, you won’t be disappointed with this one. Furthermore, I would recommend this to lovers of horses, mythology and lore, and fantasy.

Why I’m Biased: Maggie Stiefvater is also one of my favorite authors. Therefore, I rate her on a much harsher scale since I always have high expectations for authors whose work I love.

Other Reviews:
Gone with the Words
Nice Girls Read Books

About the Author

All of Maggie Stiefvater’s life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you’re a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she’s tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She’s made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads


  1. I felt similarly. The writing was gorgeous and the characters/mythology were great, but the book just seemed to drag! Thanks for the thoughtful review, Cialina! :)

  2. I also think Maggie’s writing is breath taking, but her characters and plot don’t do it for me. I was kind of disappointed with the last two Shiver books, so I’ll read this on if it falls magically into my lap (free lol)

  3. Wow, I’d love to experience a slow, realistically built-up romance for once :P Plus the magical killer water horses sound cool, but I kind of need a plot to keep me going, LOL. Will probably be picking this one up anyway. :)

  4. This sounds AMAZING. And I’m okay with a plot sacrificed for characterization or beautiful writing and I think you can usually guarantee the beautiful writing with Stiefvater. Also, the killer water horse sound really, really intriguing and then the magical words STAND ALONE and I am HOOKED!

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